June 6, 2016 Rotogram: 41

Wildlife of Australia

Steve Brandon, local world traveler and nature photographer, will show us wildlife of Australia. Eddie Keith will introduce him.

Next Week: CREATE Foundation

The CREATE Foundation’s Imagine the Possibilities Expo is being offered to all 8th graders in Northeast Mississippi. Larry Anderson will explain the program.

June is Rotary Fellowships Month

Fellowships are for Rotarians with common interests in worthwhile recreational activities (sports, hobbies, etc.); further their vocational development through acquaintance with others of the same profession; make new friends around the world; explore new opportunities for service; or, have fun and enhance their experience in Rotary. As a local example, Mark Guyton, Brent Fountain and Ned Browning are members of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians.

For the Record—May 23

Invocation and Pledge:         Sandra Harpole

Attendance:                                          63.8%

Present — 95 (41 exempt)

Absent — 86 (19 exempt, 12 honorary)

Guests: Member guest was Dianne Jackson
of Gary Jackson. Guests of the club were Peggy Branch, Akua Twunasi, Joel Downey, Benadetta Trentarossi, RYE Student, and James Carskadon, Starkville Daily News.

Meeting Notes

Past-President Michelle Amos substituted for President Zach who had a business conflict; and Ned Browning substituted for President-elect Briar who was on his way to the Rotary International convention in Korea.

Members were reminded that volunteers are needed to help with the annual district foundation and membership conference on July 15-16.

A thank you note from the Merrill Hawkins Teacher of the Year, Barb Adkins, was read. She said, “I was both honored and humbled to receive this award. It has been a joy to spend 37 years in a career I am passionate about.”

Past-President Michelle closed the meeting with a shout out to the Bulldog baseball team for its SEC season championship clinched in the previous weekend.

Habitat for Humanity

Joel Downey, Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity executive director, received the club’s $1,350 support check for the year. He reported that the organization is completing its 60th house as it enters its 30th year of service in the community.

“Habitat doesn’t really do the houses; the community does the houses by providing the funds and volunteers,” Downey said. “So, we appreciate both your financial and community support.”

Center for American Veterans

May 23 — Support of military veterans, a hallmark of Mississippi State University since its inception, is showing national leadership through the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans.

“The center is the best in the nation when it comes to taking care of veterans and their issues,” said Ken McRae, center director. “Overall, I’d put my staff up against any other.”

The retired Army National Guard colonel explained that the program serves veterans, active service members and dependents. It coordinates with Veterans Administration educational programs and medical services. In addition to veterans’ transition and resiliency programming, the center excels in grant writing and management, and research on veterans’ issues.

In 2006 under President Robert Fogelsong, the university founded the center to provide student support services. This year, it looks to a new home in Nusz Hall near the intersection of Coliseum Boulevard and George Perry Street.

McRae said the facility will open by the time students return in August. Ribbon cutting for the 7,500 square-feet building will happen before the first home football game. It houses administrative offices, a meeting area, student-support spaces, and, eventually, a museum.

The new buildings are made possible, in part, by Tommy and Terri Nusz, alumni of MSU’s Class of 1982, who donated a $12.3 million gift as part of Infinite Impact, MSU’s ongoing capital campaign.

The Montgomery Center directly serves more than 2,300 students, the majority of which are dependents. The number includes 450 veterans and an additional 300 active service members in different roles on campus. The veterans-related population accounts for eleven percent of the MSU student body.

Of the service dependents, McRae said, “They’ve seen their parents leave and come back; or, leave and not come back.”

Veterans benefits now come through the post-9/11 GI Bill formerly the Montgomery Bill. They include full tuition, a book stipend up to $1,000 per year and a $1,284 basic monthly housing allowance. Studies show the money turns over 1.7 times in the Starkville community.

The university is the only higher education institution in the nation that waives graduate and undergraduate out-of-state tuition for service members and their dependents. Consequently, a vigorous outreach program has doubled the number of veteran associated students attracted to MSU.

“We now have a state veteran’s service officer housed in the center,” said McRae. “That gives a linkage with the community beyond the campus borders.”

Of particular pride to the director who also is a doctoral student, is the fact that his is apparently the only veteran’s center with an academic research program. His program works with Dr. Laura Lemons, assistant leadership professor in Human Sciences, on the distinctions between military and corporate leadership.

The center’s research goal is to improve retention of veterans in corporate structures post-military service. “The corporate world has been very good to bring on a lot of veterans,” he said. “But, for some reason there’s not a lot of staying power.”

Interdisciplinary cooperation is another distinctive of the Montgomery Center. It has one of only two programs in the nation to certify veterans’ affairs workers. The program is implemented through the MSU Instructional Systems and Workforce Development Department.

The IHL recently approved the Learning Excellence through Rehabilitation in Neuromechanics program. LERN will bring in disabled veterans for rehabilitation and then research the efficiency of rehab. It is a cooperative effort with CAVS human factors, kinesiology, psychology and sociology.

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